What is RTI for mathematics?
Page 2: The Features of RTI
Although schools might implement RTI in different ways, there are several main features common to the overall implementation of the approach. These features create a strong framework to support student learning. The table below describes these main features, each of which will be explored in more detail on subsequent pages.
|Universal screening||A brief screening measure administered to all students one to three times per year to help identify those who might be struggling.|
|High-quality instruction||Effective instruction provided to all students in the general education setting using a standards-based curriculum and evidence-based practices.|
|Frequent progress monitoring||A type of formative assessment in which student learning is evaluated often and on a regular basis in order to provide useful feedback about performance to both learners and teachers. Teachers can use this data to track students’ progress and make instructional decisions.|
|Data-based decision making||The process of analyzing formative assessment data and using it to make instructional decisions, such as identifying which students are struggling and how best to meet their academic needs.|
|Increasingly intense levels of instructional intervention||Additional instruction at the next level of intensity (i.e., core instruction plus targeted intervention or intensive intervention) received by a student when progress monitoring data indicate that the student is not making adequate progress.|
|Fidelity of implementation||The degree to which teachers accurately follow the implementation guidelines of an instructional or behavioral program or practice.|
To implement the RTI approach effectively, school personnel must first understand how to incorporate these features systematically and with fidelity. Watch the video below to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between these features (time: 3:42).
Elementary versus Middle and High School
Whether in the elementary, middle, or high school setting, teachers should implement the main features of RTI outlined above. The basic description of RTI on the subsequent pages is valid for implementation at all grade levels. However, because the structure of middle and high school differs greatly from that of elementary school, the implementation of RTI in those settings will present additional challenges, for example in terms of scheduling and fidelity. These challenges will likewise be addressed on the following pages.
David Allsopp and Brad Witzel discuss how RTI differs at the elementary level compared to the middle and high school levels, highlighting a few implementation challenges at the upper levels.
David Allsopp, PhD
Assistant Dean for Education and Partnerships
University of South Florida
Brad Witzel, PhD
Professor of Special Education
Because it is initially implemented at the elementary school level, many secondary educators believe that RTI does not apply to them. More specifically, they believe that if RTI did not work for students when they were in elementary school, it will not work for them in middle or high school either, and thus these students should be referred for special education services. Some common myths regarding RTI at the middle and high school levels are explored below. Click on each to separate myth from fact.
|Myth: Supplemental instruction will not help struggling adolescents. They should be referred for special education.|
|Fact: Research indicates that students in middle and high school do indeed benefit from instructional support. When schools implement RTI, there is a mechanism in place for providing the support that these students need, whether supplemental or intensive intervention.|
|Myth: Students in middle and high school are often not motivated to learn. Spending additional resources on supports is fruitless.|
|Fact: Students who receive supports and interventions that meet their needs are often more motivated to learn and persist in instructional tasks. Additionally, students who participate in monitoring their own progress are often motivated to perform better.|
|Myth: It is impossible to implement RTI in high school because the structure is complex (e.g., rigid schedules, required courses, graduation requirements.|
|Fact: Although challenging, with advanced planning RTI can be implemented at the high school level. It is beneficial to create an interdisciplinary and collaborative team to think through these challenges and provide multiple levels of support to meet the needs of all students.|
Importance of Collaboration
The success of the RTI approach depends upon shared responsibility and increased accountability for student learning. This can be achieved through greater collaboration among school leaders, teachers, specialists (e.g., mathematics interventionists, mathematics coach, RTI coordinator, general education teacher, special education teacher, an individual knowledgeable about assessment), and parents. In particular, the success of RTI requires that general educators and interventionists or special educators work together closely to collect and evaluate data, make data-based instructional decisions, and plan and deliver instruction. To accomplish these tasks, educators will need sufficient time to meet as well as to take part in training and ongoing professional development to acquire and maintain necessary skills.
Brad Witzel discusses the importance of collaboration to determine effective intervention practices that should be implemented across teachers. He also elaborates on the four steps below that teachers can implement to help improve their instruction.
- Observe each other
- As a group, determine what is needed to improve instruction
- Create a list of actions that must be implemented
- Meet frequently and work collaboratively to continue to make improvements
Throughout the RTI process, communication with parents or guardians is important. Early in the process, school personnel should offer general information to families about the goals of the RTI approach and how they might be involved in their children’s education. Frequent and personal communication with parents will help schools to be better prepared to meet the educational needs of all children, and will help families stay informed regarding their children’s progress.